Conventionally, it has been common practice for attorneys to store the original copies of estate planning documents. The Illinois Deposit of Wills was created in 2010 in an effort to address the issue of original will and trust storage after attorneys can no longer store the them.
Original wills, codicils, trusts and trust amendments are accepted for deposit in the repository at the Secretary of State’s Index Department in its Springfield office however, before tendering the original documents for deposit, the attorney must certify that he or she performed a ‘good-faith search for the testator’ to no avail. The fee for deposit is fifteen ($15) dollars and the one-time maximum deposit is limited to fifty documents. If more than five documents are presented for deposit, an appointment with personnel is required. The repository wants no responsibility for transporting the original documents, thus maintains that an attorney, or attorney’s agent, must make the deposit in person at the Springfield office. Upon acceptance, the original documents are immediately “sealed in an envelope that must contain substantial identifying information including the testator’s birth date, alternative names, descriptions of the estate planning documents enclosed, and other information as set forth in the Illinois Secretary of State Act, 15 ILCS 305/5.15.” ISBA July 2012; Vol. 100, No. 7, pp. 346. Once deposited, the original documents are held for 100 years in a vault in the basement at the Index Department and entered into a searchable database.
To retrieve a document, the retrieving party needs to present a death certificate, a letter stating the party for whom he or she is searching, and pay the retrieval fee of ten ($10) dollars.
The Address for the Index Department is 111 East Monroe Street, Springfield, Illinois 62701
The Index Department’s phone number is 217.782.7017
More than five documents requires an appointment with personnel at 217.782.0705